Friday, May 12, 2006

China Canada seek crude off Cuba

China, Canada seek crude off Cuba
05.11.2006, 11:38 PM

HAVANA (AFX) - China will send 12 high-tech rigs to drill for oil in
Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico, officials confirmed.

Cuba has stepped up work on a total of 36 new oil wells with Chinese
companies and Canada's Sherritt, about four kilometers off the north
coast, officials said privately.

The Cuban government has been uncharacteristically open about the well,
drilled to a record depth for Cuba, near Varadero east of Havana.

Diplomatic sources yesterday told Agence France-Presse that India's ONGC
Videsh and Norway's Norsk Hydro would join forces with Spain's Repsol to
seek crude in the Gulf of Mexico.

That news came as US lawmakers stepped up their criticism of US
environmental laws which make it all but impossible for US firms to
prospect for oil in nearby US waters while rivals can do so near Cuba. A
US embargo locks US firms out of Cuba.

The deal with ONGC Videsh and Norsk Hydro, to be signed officially in
Havana May 23, technically is not a new contract.

'Those companies are joining the existing one with Repsol to share
risks,' a European diplomat told Agence France-Presse privately.

Repsol has rights to six of the 59 prospecting areas the Cuban
government has been auctioning off since 1999. It carried out its first
drilling in 2004 and while oil was found, Repsol said the crude was not
of commercial grade.

Since then Repsol has been looking for partners to share the investment
burden, and ONGC Videsh and Norsk Hydro each will be picking up 30 pct
of the expenses, AFP reported.

In Washington, yesterday, two Republican US lawmakers submitted a bill
that would in effect ease the economic embargo by allowing US firms to
operate in Cuban waters.

Cuba produces about a third of the oil it consumes, with the rest
imported under favorable terms from Venezuela.


No comments: